Monday, May 26, 2008

Trust your food

Remember that tomato give-away at work I talked about earlier? The give-away was this weekend. I brought in about 100 little heirloom tomato plants in nine different varieties, and all but ten of them were taken away to good homes. Hopefully these folks will like their unusual, non super-market tomatoes enough to try more heirlooms in the future.

A very nice old lady even brought in a tomato plant for me - a variety she called 'Taliana,' which she brought over from New Zealand twenty years ago and has been growing ever since. (Anybody out there grow Taliana tomatoes??) For my remaining ten plants, I already have a home for them -- the dairy I buy milk from (yes - right off the farm!) told me they will gladly take any and all I had left. I hate to see anything go to waste.

Yes, I am a pack-rat. Anyone who knows me will tell you this. I am also a hoarder. That means at any given time, I have about two months worth of food in my house. I claim that I like to buy in bulk because it saves money, but the real reason is that I like to have lots of food on hand. You never can be too prepared, right?

I would like to be more self-sufficient. I don't trust big
companies. I think that if big companies have a choice between making lots of money selling an unhealthy product, and making less money selling a healthy product, they'll go for the first option. One of those big companies I distrust is Monsanto. Distrust is too soft a word for what I feel toward Monsanto. What they are doing to the world's food supply is very, very scary.

So, in my own very little way, I am trying to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on big food companies. We have a large garden and preserve a lot of what we grow. I save vegetable seed from year to year. We're members of a local CSA. I buy our natural beef, pork and chicken from local farmers. I shop at the local co-op and have joined an organic food buying club. I buy milk straight from the dairy. Our food is local, healthy and tasty. I'm not trying to be preachy, but I am pleased about most of the choices we've made. That's not to say we've given up on supermarket food altogether -- heavens, no. But the money we spend there has gotten less and less over the years.

It's amazingly easy to eat local these days. There are numerous guides available for many areas of the country. Lots of local co-ops have information that will help you get started. Or just do a google search for CSAs in your town. It seems every week there is a news story about product recalls, animal mistreatment, genetic food engineering and chemical toxicity. Knowing where your food comes from and what goes into it is a great liberating experience.

Here's links to several local food guides for Minnesota:
MN Dept. of Agriculture:
Slow Food Minnesota:
Land Stewardship Project:
Upper MN River Valley:
Southeast MN:
MN Farmers Market Association:

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